Why Leadership?

As I’ve grown in my career and become more aware of future career paths I was always uncertain about the concept of leadership. In particular I’ve been wondering why I’m hearing leadership in place of management more and more. There are several reasons for this in my particular industry.

Leadership is a hot topic in all of business because effective leadership drives performance and results. A strong leader (at any level) can improve the performance of everyone in the team. Where leadership shines is during the difficult times in the workplace. A leader helps with difficult decisions, difficult conversations and difficult consequences.

I.T. as an industry has several qualities that make it unique. Change is constant and rapid. Many employees are well educated and highly intelligent. Most work is entirely abstract and difficult to grasp physically. On top of that there never really is a “right” solution for any problem. Decision making in this environment is difficult because of these factors and trying to get people to agree to decisions is even harder. Leadership demand is therefore emerging in I.T. where juggling the problems of technology with the human aspects of team management makes driving a team towards an effective solution challenging.

Contemporary software development practices also demand leadership. The Agile methodology and Scrum development practices advocate self organizing teams. No management positions are even listed for typical teams in these environments (Scrum Master and Product Owner being the closest). Regardless of title, leaders will emerge and must operate from a leadership role rather than a management role all while remaining equal to their peers. This is a difficult challenge. Organizations structured around Agile teams will have a different management layer that must provide guidance to these self organized teams. Here leadership is extremely important. Not only do these managers need to show leadership to numerous teams at the team level, they will often be engaged with every individual on each team. Helping to guide teams while providing individual leadership is probably not new but it seems like an interesting dynamic I haven’t been exposed to before.

Having experience in competitive sports in my youth brought out my interest in both teamwork and leadership. I’m now seeing it’s benefits in the workplace and I’d like to learn more about this in order to help myself, my colleagues, the teams I’m a part of and the employer I work for. There’s plenty of ideas and theories about leadership and I look forward to exploring this area and applying my own unique touch in my day to day life.